A few weeks ago when I got back from CES I went out and met up with my usual group of friends. Being the “tech guy” in the group two of my friends had to show me their new phones. Both were smartphones to my surprise, most of my friends are not tech people at all and have no need for all of the functions of a smartphone. The 2 phones were the Samsung Moment and the HTC myTouch. My two friends were really excited to show me how they customized the Android home screen and all of the applications they had. I’m an iPhone guy and I’ve had my iPhone for quite a while. It felt good having one of the only phones that could have apps on it, but now almost anyone can get an Android phone! This begs the question, is Android taking over the mobile OS market?
So what is Android?
Android is a mobile operating system that is based on a modified version of the Linux kernel. Much like your Windows installation you are able to install programs on it. In July 2005 Google acquired Android and in November 2007 the Android mobile OS distribution was unveiled. At first there were many mixed reviews of the operating system saying that it was not ready for prime-time yet, but since the release of the 2.0 software and the release of popular phones like the Motorola DROID and Google’s Nexus One things have surely improved for Android. Right now there are around 20 phones that come with Android pre-installed and at CES we even saw some internet tablets running the Android operating system.
The Microsoft Effect?
When home computers started becoming popular there were 2 main operating systems MAC OS and Windows. MAC OS was limited to Apple’s computer systems only whereas Windows could run only pretty much any hardware. We all known who won that war, Microsoft came out on top even though as many say their operating system was inferior to the MAC OS operating system. The Windows operating system became more popular had access to it and it was running on more machines. With more people using the software more people developed for it meaning there were more applications available.
Is this what Google is trying to do with Android? It seems so if they wanted to lock down this software to their Nexus One phone they would not have developed Android under the free software and open source license. This means if you are a handset manufacturer and you want Android on your phone your device you can have it on there! This also gives people a choice when it comes to getting a phone, you are not locked into once device that runs the software. I think this is what is making Android a real contender in the mobile OS market.
Does it Compare to the iPhone
No doubt we had to compare Android to the iPhone OS. Android already has one over on the iPhone OS as it can run more than one application at a time. This is a huge pain when I’m using my iPhone, for example I can’t listen to Pandora and browse the web at the same time. Simple things like that would make the iPhone OS so much better. This makes me wonder how successful Apple’s iPad tablet will be if you can only run one app at a time.
Let’s talk about Apps, Apple’s App store has the most apps for sure, but Android is slowly catching up. On December 15th there were 20,000 available apps on the Android marketplace and they say by March there will be 30,000! So the developer community is growing and we are seeing some of the very popular apps for the iPhone being developed for Android. Also developers don’t have to go through the long wait time of getting an app approved like they have to do with the iPhone OS, I’ve heard of some developers having to wait months till their app was approved! On the other hand Apple’s approval process does give you the user some security when downloading applications that are developed by 3rd parties.
The iPhone does have Android beat when it comes to games. There are games for the Android operating system, but there are far more and better quality games for the iPhone OS. Apple markets their iPod touch as a mobile gaming device more than an MP3 player!
So with the iPhone OS you have the original iPhone, iPhone 3GS, iPhone 3G, all of which are basically the same device, and the iPod touch. This is a very limited device catalog considering you can get around 20 Android phones right now. Also keep in mind that unless you jailbreak and unlock the iPhone you are stuck on AT&T’s network, which for many people is not that great.
Will Android Succeed?
At first when Android came out this was the big question, but I think it’s been answered. Proof of that is the adoption of the operating system by handset manufacturers and all the developers that are creating applications for Android. Google’s free and open system with Android is making it more available to people and making it succeed. The iPhone is marketed as “tech” device which discourages many average consumers. Android is just an operating system so all those “tech” features in the OS are just a plus when you purchase an Android device. So is your next phone going to be an Android phone? Let us know in the comments!